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Digital Body Residency: Project Development

Sep 1st 2022 , 08:00 Sep 30th 2022 , 17:00

Welcome to the Digital Body Residency blog! This page will be updated regularly during the duration of the residency — follow our process of research and discovery in real time, or after the residency in archive form!

Questions/Prompts/Thoughts that we considered as part of the process of creating artworks

How do I possibly integrate multiple groups and make them interact with each other with texts?
How can I raise questions to make people think but not make them feel “educated”?
What kind of voice/instruction/questions/activities/ are suitable/interesting/engaging for a soundwalk?

What classifies something as sentient?
How to create a respectful and conscious relationship with technology, so that works that blend physical and digital are not about humans using it, but humans working together with it?
How will it feel when I hear the AI, which I created and taught my own thoughts, and is somehow an invisible expanded body of mine, tells me something I don’t want to hear?
Am I learning to code from scratch so that I don’t feel lonely?

Should I bother? Is this interesting?
What is aesthetically pleasing and conceptually interesting?
Am I being overly complicated? Is there an easier way?
Oh my God! How am I going to do any of this!? It’s so hard!

How can technology serve as a tool for creative expression rather than a distraction or the central focus? 
Why am I using three projectors? Because they are there or because I need them?
How can I learn as much as possible about all of the technology available while still creating a work with an independent logic and purpose?
What are the moral implications of creating autobiographical or self-reflective work that is not a solo? 
I feel that artistic work that incorporates technology is often either incredibly earnest or overwhelmingly ironic (see: social media as an example). Why does this happen and what is the in-between? 
Was I actually asking myself any of these things while working on this work or am I just thinking about them now? 

How can I work outdoors with technology?
How am I gonna do any of this (animation, motion capture, AR) in the future since I don’t own any of the tech to do it?

Is it desirable to link different media directly to each other (through data transfer), for example video image and body movement, or is it artistically more intriguing to let different media be agents in their own right and allow for meanings to arise from the empty space in between them?
How can digital questions be answered/dealt with through the body?
How can working with the digital be first and foremost about the content you want to transmit or talk about?
How can the emotional, the intuitive and sensuous be transmitted through the digital?

Reflections of the residents about their experiences during the residency

Pao-Chang Tsai

I found my relationship with technological devices has become closer. I no longer hold hostile attitudes towards those I don’t understand. Instead, I now consider them as a partner to work with.

I really enjoyed how the audience gave their feedback after the performance. It was really open, non-judgemental, which is really helpful for working-in-progress projects like this. And I really found the joy of creating something I enjoyed. Thanks to this residency!

Ana Sofia Calixto

Everyone is asking themselves “why”. So perhaps this lab & residency are so intense because we share some amount of abstract – invisible – digital – common data of deep emotions that, in this group combination, built a warm sense of collectiveness.

We all knew there is sensibility in virtual spaces. But it surprised me to see how much emotion and intensity exist in the space between performing and coding. That small window of time when we stare in silence at the clothespins on the clothesline at the garden, or hear the wind blowing the leaves on the floor, or smell colleagues cooking and laughing in the kitchen, after warm ups and before opening the laptops. These moments of silence, where our personal and professional emotions meet, were like the cement putting the bricks of our digital-body-house together.

Yasi Moradi

The first idea of the performance was conceived before the revolution happening nowadays in Iran. Then, almost a week before the show, the protests started, so my conceptual questions as I just came from that society was about the long way Iranian woman passed, and the price they paid for freedom in contemporary history of Iran and how this struggle is still happening now. First I had technical questions such as the usage of cameras in different art mediums and what the possibilities of Isadora software are for me as an artist. As the situation worsened in my homeland I was less focused on my technical questions.

Michael Tuttle

It’s easy to become siloed, to only pay attention to one medium or style. My background is with sound/music. Though I have worked extensively with movement/dance I have nearly no experience with live video, VR, AR, etc. The lab introduced me to many new aspects of creative work I hadn’t considered.

During the lab, I also greatly appreciated the rich input by the artists and academics who discussed work. It has been something of a “crash course” in media-for-movement. This context has been incredibly helpful for me to formulate my own feelings and tastes concerning this sub genre.

Amanda Hameline 

I think the massive wave of information that was presented, the artists and academics we heard from, the reflections and minor arguments that arose in discussion and the work sessions/tutorials were all incredibly helpful.

I retained so much more information this year than I did last year. When I came back to NY I was hired to do projection design for another choreographer’s performance and somehow I actually knew what to do. I largely credit the residency and performance period for this. This time allowed us to implement the information that we had learned, ask questions, abuse L’s immense kindness and expertise, and, at least for me, it made all the knowledge stick. This felt more important than the actual work I created because I believe it will continue to serve my process for years to come.

Kate Slezak

I was grappling alot with the monster that is the tech industry as it is intertwined with the legacy of colonial/capitalism. How to create something inside of this that sensorially felt connected to where I imagine humanity needs to head/what experiences can be facilitated in the present to get there. My utopian politics (which are different than my politics) lean more towards grassroot agricultural socials…so imagining how does tech fit into this? With what I have access to right now, how do I make something that makes sense to me? 

Like last year, i found myself coming back to question of how to “build content” into the tech frameworks, so it made me come back to a lot of choreographic and performance questions. In the end my narrative did come out of experimentation with the tech itself.

Hannah Schillinger

What stays with me the most, is how the practice of visiting different locations is becoming a very interesting research for me. What started as experiments with the 360° camera on perspective, texture and landscape is becoming an emotional and personal journey. Since the residency, I have continued to visit places (Brandenburg’s desert, one of the last glaciers in the German alps, Germany’s second largest battery storage in a windpark on the countryside in Brandenburg) and the journey goes on. I am meeting these different places related to climate change and energy transition and each encounter is so very different since the climate and the environment is having very different effects on the body, trigger different emotions, provoque different states of being and moving. It’s becoming a practice of meeting, sensing each other, grieving together, forgiving, remembering, challenging and charging each other… These little ceremonial encounters are captured with the 360° camera (I decided now to always film from the perspective on top of the head). At this point, I am not sure yet how this work will continue to unfold, but I am following the locations and weaving a journey. At some point, I’d love to transform the experiences into a piece and share with an audience my journey of meeting the land through digital media and the body.

Unfinished Fridays Vol.84 – Project Presentations from the Digital Body Residency


15-18h – Installations / Small Group Performances, 18-22:30h – Performances

The Wishing Well (every hole counts)” by Kate Slezak

Taking place in the Garden of Lake Studios, “The Wishing Well” explores a participatory approach to ritual and performance using Augmented Reality. You are invited to write an intention, wish, desire or secret to be buried and ritualized in the soil of Lake Studios. Meet us at the picnic table to find out more.

“Setting the Scene” by Kate Slezak

“Setting the Scene” is a collection of 2D representation of 3D scans taken during the Digital Body Lab. Performative approaches to 3D scanning were experimented with in weekly gatherings in the garden.

“Murmuration/Brut” (working title) by Michael Tuttle

I am working with Anna Hull and Amanda Hameline to create a dance-video-work which includes visual effects. My hope is to create a piece which has captivating choreographed movement placed within a surreal visual environment.

Aesthetically, I am interested in finding ways of mapping the dancers’ movement to a murmuration of digital birds and rigid concrete structures.

A playlist of video tests:

Abyssal Sands” by Lucas Godoi

Abyssal Sands is a installation where the individual and the collective merge into one living bioma.
Here the public is invited to become a dramaturgical fragmant while experiencing the contradiction of individualism and collaboration in Latin American cultures.

“Here you are, again” (Temporary title) by Irene Giró

This work in progress is the start of a research on memory, identity and belonging. Taking windows as key objects from my autobiographical memory and as mediums to navigate between what is, what was and what could become.

“Re/Connect” by Pao-Chang Tsai

This site specific tailored Sound-Walk experience aims to give the spectators an immersive journey reflecting on the relationship between human/body and technology.

“sole dialogue no. 1” by Ana Sofia Calixto

This is not a performance – it is simply a talk between human and machine about sentience, power and control. Sharing consciousness, they navigate through their common and scattered memories, questioning their perception of time and space, and what having a body possibly means.

The performer sits in a swing in the middle of the stage, surrounded by strips of textile that are hung around the audience, containing the original version of a theater piece. She wears sensors on her fingers, which sends the data of her emotions during the presentation to an AI which she talks to. Once the AI detects an emotion that is not relaxed, lights are turned on and the text is seen by the audience. The performer’s goal is to keep calm and the text hidden. Meanwhile, the AI keeps digging their common memories and questioning the performer about their mirrored feelings of partnership and solitude, inspired by the same original version of a theater play.

This is not a piece strongly protected by copyright, where it states that cis women are not allowed to play male roles in the dramaturg’s pieces because “they don’t have testicles” (sic), which means it’s only possible for them to perform it in 2059. This performance is absolutely not about characters living an impending finitude, announced by the decay of their gray bodies in a post-apocalyptic world. This is simply a talk between humans and AI about sentience, power and control. The AI was taught themes surrounding these topics and personal information, together with the original theater piece that reflects on the fragility of human existence. Sharing consciousness, they navigate through their common and scattered memories, questioning their perception of time and space, and what having a body possibly means.

“you me here there now then” by Opiyo Okach

I’m not a mirror, not a copy, not an image. I’m a beta version of you. The more time you spend with me the better we will become at each other. During the residency I’ve been interested in exploring resonances and interactions of body, space, image & sound.

“333” by Amanda Hameline & Anna Hull

The average life expectancy for an American woman is 80.5 years, so I’ve lived 40.99% of my life. The statistical value of a human life according to the majority of American health insurance plans is $50,000 per year of quality life. I have $2,375,000 of quality life remaining.

I was, and am, interested in the power of an image of oneself. Why do I feel such a need to control it and in what ways does it control me? Why does the image, shape, reflection or representation of my body hold so much meaning independent of my own emotional or intellectual experience?  What does this fragmentation do to my sense of self? And why do I, or all of us performers, feel some need to be watched? In more concrete terms it was a duet featuring myself and Anna Hull, that created and responded to replicated images of the self.

“Woman_Life_Freedom” – Yasi Moradi

The death of 22- years old girl, Mahsa Amini by Iran’s so-called morality police because of what they call “inappropriate hijab” has sparked angry protest, with women burning their forced headscarves and shouting women, life, freedom, in a defiant act of residence against Islamic Republic’s dress code.

Two wooden boards joined together in almost 100° degree angle as screens of two different video projectors. First, a red line crosses both screens and afterwards, simultaneously two different but related videos are shown on the two screens – images of the Iranian acts of feminism or famous feminist activists or woman victims of the patriarchal system in power. The focus is on their eyes as it’s very difficult to inform spectators who they are and what their stories are. In addition to the images we hear Iranian music and voices of people in the streets shouting WOMAN LIFE FREEDOM in Farsi. This part of the video ends with a famous picture of the first demonstration of women against forced Hijab on 8th of March 1979, after the Islamic revolution. Then the performer sits down in front the wooden boards and starts to write WOMAN LIFE FREEDOM on an iPad which is projected onto the screens behind her and as the spectator hears the voices shouting in Farsi and sees them being written out, the performer’s silhouette shows up in the crowd, as she is one of them.

“betwixt” by Gosia Gajdemska

Present or presented. In an intense dialogue or lax coexistence. Between me and me. Between me and you. Between images. Who is there? What do we hide behind what we show?

“sketch of a screen play” by Hannah Schillinger

For this work, I am interested in looking closer at the body as a screen and a traveler. What is happening in the process of performing bodies projecting outwards while an audience is simultaneously projecting onto them? How does video direct, augment or refract the imaginations and spacetime-travels at play in a room? To research these questions, I am bringing a series of choreographic worlds in dialogue with 360° video recordings filmed in different geographic locations. I am curious to investigate how the meeting of the media film and dance generates a multiverse of emergent meanings and fractalized narratives – co-created by all presences in the room.

In this year’s digital body lab, I wanted to explore the technology of the 360° camera more deeply. Formally, I was interested in the aesthetics of how a spherical image projected on 2D alters our perception of the recorded landscape through the kaleidoscopic bending of the image. Conceptually, I was curious to explore the relation between digital technology and “nature”. Usually, the two seem to be pretty oppositional. Therefore, one of my main questions was how digital media can be a tool to connect to our immediate environment, instead of becoming estranged from it.

Physically, I was interested in deepening my work with the energetic body as a projector or screen and projection surface for an audience to project on. Choreographically, one of my main investigations was how movement can either be structured according to time, creating a linear pathway, mostly referred to as a phrase or a choreographic map one travels through. Or how movement can be structured according to space, where movement is inscribed spatially in different zones one can enter and exit (like tiny worlds). I was playing with all of these layers and interweaving them into what turned out to be “sketch of a screen play”. While in the lab part I was working closely on the direct relation between body and video image, I opened up the process during the residency part and let all my elements of interests influence each other in a more collaged way. For the Unfinished Fridays sharing, I was screening two of the landscapes or worlds I visited onto transparent projection surfaces and moving through choreographic worlds spread like a spatial map into the space, accompanied by sound sketches of my collaborator.

A&D: Presence of Absent by Elena Tilli

A room, a screen, a private space. Cables, connections, microphones, the station of transmission, perhaps? A man inside, speaks loudly. A screen, a picture reproduced. Colors remark on the role of digital, and its power to multiply. One corrupted in many. You are all inside the scene – spectator, actor, scenography, props, shadows. Can you stay?

documentation archive